Caring for a young person with mental health problems is one of the most stressful things a parent can do.  AYPH’s Ann Hagell presents the headline findings from an evaluation of Rollercoaster parents support service by Northumbria University.

Rollercoaster is based in the North East of England, and has been operating for six years.  The service consists of a combination of face-to-face groups, on-line groups, opportunities for training and individual email contact.

Funded by the Charlie Waller Trust, Northumbria University’s Department of Social Work Education and Community Wellbeing undertook a mainly qualitative process and impact evaluation over a period of six months from the end of 2020 to June 2021.  Combined with AYPH’s own work with Rollercoaster, the findings tell us that Rollercoaster was well received by participants and stakeholders, filled unmet need and had a positive impact on parents taking part as well as a wider impact on service provision in the local area.

The results are important as there are very few evaluations of this kind of parent support in the UK, but huge interest in how to help parents.  As the evaluation report notes, “The unanimous response to where they [the parents] might seek help if Rollercoaster did not exist was ‘nowhere’, ‘there is no equivalent’ or they had ‘never seen anything like it’, demonstrating the stark gap in support for parents/carers and the need for a group like Rollercoaster” (from the full evaluation report by Fothergill-Mishbah et al, 2021).

AYPH is pleased to publish a briefing paper summarising the findings, and we look forward to seeing how the service expands.